Richard Gelfond, chief executive officer, says IMAX posted its best quarterly results ever in the fourth quarter of 2021, despite COVID-19-related issues.
Gelfond notes that IMAX overdelivered, posting $108.6 million -- up 15% from the fourth quarter of 2019 -- right before pandemic disruptions hit big-time.
For the year overall, revenue was up 150% in 2021 over 2020. As a result, its stock shot up 6% in after-market trading on Wednesday.
So what can you make of this? Is it about that really big screen? Is it all about what is perceived as a “higher”-quality theatrical exhibition?
All this would be pretty remarkable, considering over that a two-year time period from until now there has been an explosion of in-home premium streaming content -- including major theatrically intended movies, many of which found their way on streaming platforms at the same time as those films appeared in theaters.
“There is a lot of pent-up demand” says Gelfond. “People want a cultural experience -- they want to socialize,” he said on CNBC Wednesday. “They want to see it in a very different way than they see it in their home.”
Analysts have talked up entertainment consumerism as a different animal -- that consumers can put financial and issues that are potentially harmful to their health aside, spending big for that big entertainment thrill feeling.
Just recently -- even with the Omicron variant raging in the last quarter of 2021 -- Disney's theme parks showed a return to strong, even surging, results. Much can be said for how Sony’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” performed during this same period, still rising to historic levels for a theatrical release.
So if you keep the doors open -- amidst whatever the national health circumstance is -- you’ll get people onto roller coaster rides, or into theater seats, looking at really big moving images.